Employee engagement and retention are (or should be) top of mind for company leadership and HR teams. Having an engaged workforce means a stronger, more productive company. Unfortunately, only 34% of employees report being fully engaged in their workplace. That said, companies have been spending a lot on this problem. In fact, an estimated three-quarters of a billion dollars, each year.
Obviously, this is a huge issue with many components. Employee development and education, benefits, and company culture all play into the employee experience, which directly impacts retention and engagement.
It’s all about the culture
This issue poses too many factors for business (especially small ones) to address from every vantage point. Most medium and small sized companies have a tight budget set aside for employee experience. But you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money on perks to create a culture of productivity and engagement. Not surprisingly, 76% of employees cite their manager as the leading influencer of workplace culture.
With that in mind, you’d assume companies are taking advantage of this knowledge and setting up their managers and leaders to be trailblazers for building a happy workforce, right? Sorry, not so much.
A shocking 71% of companies do not feel their leaders are able to actually lead their organization. And we can assume that leaders who are unable to lead are negatively impacting the people they’re supposed to lead.
So, if managers are the major influencing factor in creating company culture, and companies don’t feel they’re doing their job well, it’s time to think about the tools they’re given to accomplish company goals.
How are your managers trained to manage? Do they even get training? Or does your company just promote highly functioning employees into manager roles and let them figure it out on their own?
Training your managers to take a different approach to supervising their teams might just be what your company needs. But how, you ask? By training them to coach instead of manage.
Coaching vs. managing
The difference between coaching and managing is fairly simple. Where managers:
- solve problems
- answer questions
- delegate tasks
- evaluate performance
Coaches take a different approach. Instead, they:
- empower their team to solve their own problems
- ask questions
- encourage employee input into how tasks get accomplished
- urge employees to think critically about their own progress
Coaching also involves continuous conversations back and forth between team members, individuals, and managers. It is a highly effective way to engage your workforce.
Empowering your employees is at the core of why coaching is so effective. By empowering your employees to solve for their own problems, you are showing that you value their opinion and trust their ability to address and overcome challenges. Employees who are given the lead to solve problems become more self-reliant and feel a greater sense of accountability and responsibility, which leads to increased engagement and satisfaction.
Demonstrating trust in your employees to effectively address challenges is a very direct way to help them build on their own self confidence as well. Helping employees grow by creating a culture that nurtures self-confidence and independence is a sure-fire way to make people feel valued. Not to mention a sense of personal growth.
Building an ongoing dialog between your employees and managers, as well as within their own team, is also a significant part of coaching. Where managers might only speak with individuals before or after a large project or when it comes time for their yearly assessment, coaching encourages a much more fluid form of communication.
Think increased employee recognition and opportunities for development. When there is an ongoing conversation between manager and employee, there is increased opportunity for managers to discover previously unknown strengths and skills that the employee may have. This can lead to employees getting assigned projects that play into their personal strengths and allow them to develop skills they are highly interested in.
Increased communication is also an effective way to suss out employees who are struggling and may need some extra support or direction. Showing that you are paying attention and willing to help guide and support an employee through a difficult time generates loyalty and a sense of safety that people value.
Value for you and them
Coaching is a much more people-focused way of managing your company. There are many different ways to implement coaching within your team and many different types of coaching to consider. By training your managers to coach, you’re not only giving them better tools to nurture a happier, more engaged workforce, but you’re investing in the future of your by offering more opportunities for personal development and creativity.
So before you consider spending capital on unnecessary toys for the employee rec room, think about whether or not your managers could use training in how to coach their teams to success. Remember, employee experience and culture comes directly from leadership. So give your leaders the tools they need to win, and watch your company win.